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Leadership and ConflictTensions in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History and Culture$
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Marc Saperstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764494

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764494.001.0001

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Legal Decision-Making in Fourteenth-Century Toledo: The Responsa of Rabbi Judah ben Asher

Legal Decision-Making in Fourteenth-Century Toledo: The Responsa of Rabbi Judah ben Asher

Chapter:
(p.29) Chapter Two Legal Decision-Making in Fourteenth-Century Toledo: The Responsa of Rabbi Judah ben Asher
Source:
Leadership and Conflict
Author(s):

Marc Saperstein

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781906764494.003.0003

This chapter is based on the responsa of Rabbi Judah ben Asher, a member of one of the leading rabbinic families in early fourteenth-century Castile. His responsa often diverges dramatically and explicitly from the principles of classical Jewish legal texts in addressing what the writer saw as the needs of his time. The chapter looks particularly at extra-halakhic aspects of his decision-making — the extent to which his adjudication is explicitly motivated, influenced, or guided by factors other than the interpretation of the classical sources of halakhah — and what this can say about Jewish life in fourteenth-century Castile. The question of takanot, communal legislation inconsistent with the traditional law, is relevant here. So are decisions manifestly said to be not in accordance with Torah law, whether because of urgent immediate needs or because changing historical circumstances seemed to make the talmudic principle no longer applicable.

Keywords:   Judah ben Asher, legal decision-making, Toledo, Jewish legal texts, takanot, communal legislation, traditional law, Torah law

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